CORONA, NY – Put it in the Books! And the Ballgame is over! And though as your Fake General Manager, one rarely prone to hyperbole, I’ve seen enough to make this prediction official: The New York Mets have turned a corner. I’m not referring to the corner of 126th Street and Roosevelt Avenue or River Ave and 161st. Nor am I speaking of the famed Lisbon and Bailey Ave intersection in Buffalo where yours truly had a moment in 1986 with the drop-dead-gorgeous Nancy Lerner. She had a term paper due for a poetry class. FSA could always spin a yarn, so I served up A.E. Housman’s To An Athlete Dying Young and proceeded to charm young Ms. Lerner with my onomatopoeia and alliterative approach to awkward seduction. But no…. I am instead talking about the Metropolitans turning the proverbial/figurative corner – the one that suggests a team has moved past its extended malaise and good times are just ahead. The Mets Are On Their Way!
“Bring your kiddies, bring your wife… guaranteed to have the time of your life.” Bring your “placards,” as Casey Stengel used to say – or bring signs like Karl “Sign Man” Ehrhardt used to do at Big Shea. Ehrhardt was actually a neighbor of mine growing up in Glen Oaks, Queens. I even got the chance to see his collection of signs he kept in his garage. He was remarkable in being able to pull out the most appropriate, dead-on sign that perfectly fit the play, the situation at any point in the game captured superbly. Those were heady times. The Mets were scrappy, even occasional winners, and Shea was often electric. That brings me to this year’s edition of the Mets…
In spite of crooked ownership and incompetent management, the Mets are now poised to make the kind of credibility leap not seen in these parts since 1984. This year’s team will make a late push for the post-season, and by next year, will actually produce the 90-win season their ancient general manager floated this Spring. Despite him, my optimistic cup is runneth-ing over.
And here’s why:
Travis d’Arnaud: In 45 years of watching baseball, I’d never seen a player scuffle and look so grossly over-matched as d’Arnaud did for the first 2 months of 2014. The Diminutive Difference Maker looked bad on breaking balls, slow on fastballs and just out of place with a big league uniform on his back. Since returning from a much-needed demotion though, TDA has looked significantly better. An easy short swing has replaced a long, slow looping swing and the results have been impressive. He’s hitting the long ball, picking up extra base hits and looks like the guy that was advertised.
Starting Pitching:The strength of the team for a while now, lately it has been downright nasty. Aside from Fartolo’s stinker last Saturday, the rotation has been stellar, and there are more big arms coming quickly. The Bullpen has been dramatically better than it has been since the days of Turk Wendell and Dennis Cook.
Players Performing: The naysayers who predicted Jason Bay Part Deux in Curtis Granderson, are eating their words. I’m looking at you existential Kierkegaard/Short Matt. Since early May, Grandy has been ferocious. His supposed “Yankee Stadium short-porch power” has been debunked, as he has been peppering CitiField’s Pepsi Porch with regularity… Lucas Duda, formerly known here as Lenny Small, has become a reliable source of run production and legit power… All-Star Daniel Murphy is now a genuine #3 hitter having a breakout year…
The parallels with the ’84 Mets are there. Young power arms keeping the team close and emerging hitters starting to get it done. Like in 1985, this Mets team still needs to add one legit elite bat in the outfield and an upgrade at short, and they’re a 90-win team next season.
The same cannot possibly be said about the 2014 Yankees.
After putting godsend Masahiro Tanaka on the DL yesterday as the team awaits MRI results on his balky elbow, the Bombers are in free-fall. Losing Tanaka would bring their total number of solid starting pitchers to zero. The 2014 Yanks will never see the North side of .500 again this season.
Now for different balls…
Carmelo Anthony has apparently agreed to come back to the Knicks and get by with Cablevision’s $129M offer. I’m anxious to see how a guy who holds the ball for 23 seconds before hositing up a bad shot will get along in a motion-based offense, predicated on passing and unselfish play. But hey, he’s back! Yay?
Brazil gave up 7 goals to Germany in the World Cup Semi-Finals this week. Brazil hadn’t been so hospitable to Germany since they provided safe haven to the Nazis after the War. The Boys from Brazil were heard muttering, “Is it safe?” after the blowout was over.
For Mets’ opponents during this year’s second half, it will NOT be safe. The Mets are really on their way!
Tune in tomorrow for what should be another Meet The Matts Radio extravaganza!